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"Mushi-Shi" Will Take Your Demons–And Your Interest–Away

by on December 13, 2009

The Mushi are creatures that surround humanity, but are never seen by most. Akin to supernatural snails or the like, they are harmless to most, outside of their innate taste for sight and sound. These small creatures are tracked and battled by the Mushi-Shi, or masters of the Mushi. One such Mushi master is Ginko, a young man who has no knowledge of his past, and is on a wandering journey through the Japan of a century ago.

Mushi-Shi has been everything from a video game to an anime to a comic book. Despite this, the story is widely unknown in America. After watching the movie, I can understand why. The story just isn’t entertaining.

If you pitched someone the story of “a man wanders the countryside, stopping supernatural threats”, you’d think he’d fight evil on a weekly basis. No, he just ends up stopping at a village, curing a few people, and then goes on his somber way as he tries to figure out his past. Wait, he doesn’t even attempt to figure out his past; he just runs into his past.

Other medical mysteries have featured action; Dr. Gregory House has been shot, dealt with a suicidal man ready to kill everyone before he gets his answer, and fixed a guy up on a plane. Ginko just takes things slow, and slows the plot down too. Sure, you get some oddities, like the concept of cutting yourself to fight demons (the emo/goth kids will just love that argument), and some interesting plots, such as the girl with the horn’s dead mother or the mushi that take the form of letters. But interesting plots mean nothing when you’re half asleep from boredom. Understanding that this isn’t an action flick is step one to enjoying it, but drama, visuals, and art can only carry you so far in a supernaturally enhanced world.

While the movie may feature grand landscapes and mushi, it’s all marred by the horrible film quality on this disc. At times it doesn’t look much better than a widescreen VHS tape, and it is unacceptably grainy for being from 2007. While it has many shots that would be great for wallpaper, they’re so abysmally transferred or filmed that you’ll have to squint to pick out the mushy Mushi from the Mushi-Shi.

Whatever space they saved with a cheap transfer the didn’t fill with extras, since these boil down to a few minutes of deleted and extended scenes, footage from the various premieres around the world, and the trailer. Almost expected on a movie released any day of the week, these features can be watched within an half-hour after the movie, and won’t enhance your enjoyment of the movie.

For a movie directed by the man who directed the Akira animation, and starring the former Kamen Rider Kuuga Joe Odagiri, what should be combined-awesome is combined-dull. As it stands, fans of obscure movies and mythology might enjoy it, but those looking for something that is actually entertaining need to look elsewhere.

Watch Kamen Rider or Akira.

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